Alright, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground in the last three articles and by now you might feel a little overwhelmed by the enormity of ear training. So, let’s go back over the highlights of what has been covered so far.

A few words of encouragement

Ear training requires a focused attention

Training the ear to distinguish between the various musical sounds takes about as much effort as learning to speak a new language.

A consistent practice schedule is crucial

It doesn’t matter if you just practice 15 minutes a day. Just make it consistent. This is what makes the difference.

Know how to critique your own work

Don’t move on until you know that you have mastered what you’re currently working on.

Know when to deviate from the course

The course is like a guide and is not set in stone. If you need to go back and go over a particular exercise again, do it. Do whatever it takes to benefit your learning.

Have a warm-up routine

There are simple exercises that you can do to benefit multiple aspects of ear training. Just like in learning to play an instrument, fundamentals are important.

See opportunity in adversity

As I mentioned in my intro about myself, I’m a composer. Here recently, I was working on a particular piece of music. It was one those pieces where I just got on a roll and was writing extremely quick. Then, when I was so close to the end, I seemed to crash right into an immovable wall. Suddenly, I was struggling just to write out a few notes. It was like I was unable to grasp the final step to take. It’s in these times of struggling, no matter the task, that we have the greatest opportunity to learn. The struggle is merely the indication of facing something you don’t yet understand. It’s the chance to turn our entire attention to one single problem with the intention of solving it. This is what was meant in my first article about a “fully conscious, focused attention.” Once the problem is solved, the knowledge is ours to keep. In turn, we ride the wave of that new knowledge until we come to the next problem and the cycle begins again.

Limitless possibility

Ear training is a lot of work. How much time and effort you put into it is the only determining factor in how successful you’ll be at it. Ear training is also a continual process. Even once you complete a course, you can still continue to cultivate your sense of hearing. Continue to fine tune your perception of musical tones and the relationships between them. I truly believe there is no area of music in which you reach a point where there is no more room for improvement. This is one of the great things about music.

Finally, it can’t be stressed enough just how important ear training is. Music is an art form for the ear. As musicians, sounds are our language. If we can’t distinguish between the different musical tones or understand the relationships between them, it’s like trying to use a language that we don’t understand. You wouldn’t go live in a foreign country without learning to speak the language of that country. Likewise, you can’t expect to get very far in music without learning its language. Every aspect of music, from performing to academic study, requires the use of our ears. The better trained our ears, the better musicians we are.

I hope that my experiences with ear training have given you some useful tips and advice on how to approach it. If you have your own tips or would like to share your own experiences, feel free to do so.